HC orders notices to YouTube, Facebook

The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered notices to the Centre, the State government and a host of private video streaming platforms on a public interest litigation petition seeking establishment of a body to censor videos uploaded on YouTube and those that were shared on social networking platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha directed State Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan to take notice on behalf of the State government and permitted the petitioner’s counsel to issue private notices even to video streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Disney Hotstar, Voot, Sony Liv, MX Player and Zee5.

The litigant, K. Suthan, a lawyer, had also sought censoring of web series, reality shows, short films and other such content telecast by Over The Top (OTT) media service platforms using the Internet. Notices were ordered to websites such as Behindwoods, Galatta, Cine Ulagam and India Glitz which have their own YouTube channels.

The petitioner wanted interviews of film personalities and other video content created by these cinema-based portals to be subjected to censorship. He wondered why such content being available freely should not be censored, when such a requirement was mandatory for feature films.

He said that videos circulated recently regarding the marriage of an actress and the reaction to it by others contained “intolerable and abusive words”. It was watched by more than 10 lakh viewers, he said.

Further, referring to a video criticising devotional song Kandha Sashti Kavasam uploaded on the YouTube channel of Karuppar Koottam and other such content, the petitioner said that there was a dire necessity to censor such content, especially after the COVID-19 situation because of increased use of electronic gadgets by all, particularly school students. Concurring with the petitioner, the judges ordered notices, returnable by three weeks.

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